Moto Shibata became the first Japanese skateboarder to win X Games gold Thursday after a flurry of high-flying tricks — including a surprise — put him atop the podium in the skateboard vert competition.
Shibata, 21, bested such legendary names as Bob Burnquist and Bucky Lasek to make his second vert podium in as many years. Shibata claimed gold by busting out a new trick — one that announcers were unsure what to dub as he spun 360 degrees in the air and twice flipped the board around his feet.
“The name is ‘kamikaze,’ ” Shibata explained. “First time I landed in competition today.”
Creativity pushed a youth movement that took over the skateboard podium with 23-year-old Jimmy Wilkins earning the silver medal and 20-year-old Mitchie Brusco nabbing the bronze medal. Both Americans combined an impressive variety of lip tricks and soaring spins to impress the judges.
But it was Shibata’s unique twist that made history, a year after he became the first Japanese skateboarder to medal in 23 years of summer X Games. He won silver in his debut last year.
On Thursday, Shibata shot out of the gate with a score of 90 on his first of three runs, which edged Wilkins’ best by only one point.
“There are no words,” Shibata said after receiving his gold medal from Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges.
Shibata said he had crafted his kamikaze trick for the past four months.
Aussie wins BMX vert
Australian rider Vince Byron got back on top Thursday, defeating British veteran Jamie Bestwick for the second time in three years to win X Games gold in the BMX vert competition.
Byron landed two 540-degree flairs, soaring above the 13-foot ramp for his second career X Games gold. He first won gold in 2015, when he ended Bestwick’s X Games record run of nine consecutive gold medals in BMX vert.
Has Byron unseated Bestwick as the new king of the BMX vert ramp? Not yet, said Byron, who thought Bestwick actually had the better day. Bestwick nailed an alley-oop tailwhip 540 to earn the silver medal.
“I watched Bestwick and I’m like, he landed something even better,” Byron said. “Maybe I was just judging myself wrong.”
Bestwick, 46, was chasing history, just one gold medal shy of tying Shaun White’s record 15 golds across all X Games disciplines. He also was without feeling in part of his left leg because of a back issue suffered a month ago. His top run fell less than one point (92.66) short of Byron’s winning score (93.00).
Oldest rider crashes
A tense quiet fell over the festive atmosphere on the U.S. Bank Stadium plaza after veteran BMX rider Dennis McCoy crashed to the bottom of the ramp.
McCoy took a hard fall going for a 720-degree spin on his opening run. The 50-year-old rider, the oldest athlete at this year’s X Games, lay in the center of the ramp for a few minutes before medical personnel helped him to his feet.